Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool FC on August 22, 2022 in Manchester, England.
Ash Donelon | Manchester United | Getty Images
Saudi Arabia says it wants its investors to take over Manchester United and Liverpool – and hopes Cristiano Ronaldo will come to play in its domestic league.
Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal revealed the country’s latest sporting ambitions in an interview Sky News — a sovereign wealth fund already owns Newcastle and is now funding a spin-off golf series.
Prince Abdulaziz is interested in United – after the Glazers announced plans for a potential sale – and Ronaldo.
He wants Ronaldo to sign for the Saudi professional league side after the World Cup, with the 37-year-old a free agent after his acrimonious exit from United this week.
“Who wouldn’t want him playing in their league?” Prince Abdulaziz said Sky News. “He is a role model for many young players – him and Messi.”
Sky Sports News understands Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal are considering a deal to sign Ronaldo.
The vision is for the Saudi league to feature both Ronaldo and Messi, who is still signed to Paris Saint-Germain but has already been signed for Saudi promotion.
“It has brought great benefits in terms of tourism to the kingdom,” Prince Abdulaziz said. “If they can, I would like to see them both play in the Saudi league.”
Newcastle were bought by the Saudis last year through the Public Investment Fund, which the Premier League says is not controlled by the government despite being chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Two other Premier League clubs are now in the market – Liverpool and United – and the sports minister wants one – or both – to come under Saudi ownership.
“I hope so, if there are investors and the numbers increase and it will be a good business,” he said. “Then the private sector can come, or companies can come from the kingdom.”
He added: “The Premier League is the best league in the world. Everyone is watching the Premier League. It is the most popular league and there are avid fans of these teams in the kingdom. So it would be a win-win.”
“I can say that we have a strong league. It is not one of the strongest in Asia. You know, we are building towards a better future. And we can see how much the future holds for it.”
He continued: “And you know, I’ve heard about this speculation on the news like everyone else. I don’t have any details about any of the messages that came out. But you know what I can say is that we have Messi as an ambassador for tourism in the kingdom in the Ministry of Tourism – and that has been very beneficial.
“In terms of tourism for the kingdom, if they can, I would like to see them both play in the Saudi league and, you know, if the best players come to the Saudi league and play, it will strengthen the programs that we do.”
The co-owner of “Manchester United” Avram Glazer for the first time made a statement that the club could be put up for sale.
Sky News tracked him down near his home in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he was asked to why now is the time to sell the club.
He said: “As we announced yesterday, the board has gone through a process and decided that it will consider various strategic alternatives – and that is what we are doing.”
He echoed the question of why the club had not been sold earlier, adding: “We’ll see where it takes us.”
The Glazers were reportedly furious with comments made by Cristiano Ronaldo in a recent interview, and Ronaldo left United by mutual consent this week.
Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United walks on the pitch during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool FC on August 22, 2022 in Manchester, England.
Ash Donelon | Manchester United | Getty Images
But Avram Glazer played down the striker’s claim, echoed by many fans, that his family “doesn’t care about the club”.
He told Sky News: “Well, I’ll tell you about Cristiano Ronaldo – he’s a great player for Manchester United, I appreciate everything he’s done for the club and I wish him the best of luck in the future.”
How things have changed in 16 days…
November 8: Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group say they are “open to investors” coming in and helping the club – something they remain “totally committed to”. Earlier it was reported that FSG is ready to sell the club.
November 11: Liverpool announce that director Mike Gordon, who is president of FSG, is stepping down from his role amid reports of the club being sold.
November 13: High-profile interview with Cristiano Ronaldo from TalkTV is announced, in which he criticizes Manchester United, the Glazer family and manager Erik ten Haag, among others.
November 17: The second part of Ronaldo’s interview airs, in which he claims the Glazers are “not worried” about United.
November 22, 5:30 p.m.: Following legal advice, Manchester United announced that they had terminated Ronaldo’s contract with United by mutual consent and the 37-year-old became a free agent.
November 22, 7:30 p.m.: Two hours after Ronaldo’s departure was confirmed, Sky News reported that the Glazer family were ready to sell Manchester United.
November 22, 21:30: Two hours later, Manchester United released a statement indicating the Glazers are open to exploring “strategic alternatives … including new investment in the club, a sale or other transactions involving the company”.
November 23: Reports in the UK claim that British billionaire and Manchester United fan Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who has previously expressed an interest in taking over at Old Trafford, will join the race to buy United.
November 24: Liverpool have announced that sporting director Julian Ward, who replaced Michael Edwards in the role a year ago, is set to leave the club at the end of the season. Research director Ian Graham will also step down from his role.
November 24: Saudi Arabia’s Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal has told Sky News of his country’s desire to take over Manchester United and Liverpool.
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